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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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In February a large oak (approx 40-50 tonnes) across the road

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In February a large oak (approx 40-50 tonnes) across the road from my property on a raised verge came down blocking the road and crashing through the cob & brick barn on property. It was discovered through the local land charges office that the owner was the Secretary of State for Transport and responsibility for maintenance of the tree was with the Devon Council Highways Agency. Independent tree inspection indicated serious obvious detrimental fugal growth at the base of the tree - some of which was the size of dustbin lids. A tree inspector from the council also viewed the remains of the tree, fungal growths I have retained (which he advised me to keep) and damage. He said that looking at Google Earth images from 2009 the fungal brackets were evident back then.Whilst the tree cam down during the storms it was indicated that it could have come down on a still sunny day. The tree was cut away from the building and cleared from the road the following day by a team of 6 taking approximately 9-10 hours. In June the Highways agency sent a further team to remove the remainder of the tree from inside the barn which took 2-3 days.
The building is part of a Grade 2 listed property, however that building was not insured. I have now been advised by the council's claim team that I have to fill out a claim of which there is no guarantee it will be upheld and if they do pay out it will/may only be on work completed to repair. This is significant and catastrophic damage to approx 70% of the building (not including damage that was caused to the main dwelling or my vehicle).
Where would I stand legally if they failed to admit liability and I decided to appeal the decision and proceed with legal action?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with tis.
Alex Watts : this
Alex Watts : For now please let me know what is the amount outstanding please?
Customer:

Hello Alex,

Customer:

Amount outstanding?? No work has been done. The damaged building is 'as is'. I have been waiting for somebody from the council or their claims team to view and formally report on it but since removal of tree in June all has gone quiet. Hence me chasing them and them informing me that I now need to fill out a claim.

Alex Watts : Yes but do you know the value?
Customer:

Sorry Alex - my misunderstanding. The builder who has been advising me and who has done considerable work with the Conservation Office for listed buildings has given me as a ballpark figure that costs could go up to £200K.

Alex Watts :

Thank you. Ideally you would have needed a survey of the tree. This is because the court may find it useful to have a report saying about the condition of the tree as independent expert evidence.

Alex Watts :

But of course you can issue proceedings against the Council for negligence

Alex Watts :

You should to write and set out your losses and ask for a payment within 14 days or say you will go to Court. Make sure you send this recorded delivery and keep a copy.

Alex Watts :

If they refuse then you can issue proceedings which can be done online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by competing form N1 at: https://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf

Alex Watts :

The Court will then issue the claim which will be sent to the Defendant and they will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce it. If the matter is defended it will be set down for a hearing

Alex Watts :

As the losses are significant then you would need representation at trial from a Barrister

Alex Watts :

This is what is called multi track, which is high value cases

Alex Watts :

Of course the normal rule is if you lose then you are responsible for the other sides costs, so you need to be aware of that

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

Thank you Alex - this has been helpful. As I mentioned I did get an independent tree report done within a few days of the incident just to cover myself if things became difficult.

Alex Watts : Indeed. That certainly helps you
Alex Watts : You have evidence as to the Comdition
Alex Watts : condition
Customer:

To me and many I have spoken to this appears to be negligence on their behalf with regards ***** ***** inspection and management. While I appreciate it wasn't intentional it has left me in a very difficult situation. By the fact that after 4 months they organised for a company and equipment to remove the remainder of the tree from the internal aspects of the building -does this go some way to an admission of liability??

Alex Watts : Not necessarily but it certainly helps your case
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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